How to Cut a Half-Blind Lap Dovetail Joint with Hand Tools

//How to Cut a Half-Blind Lap Dovetail Joint with Hand Tools

In Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School, my friend Will Myers expertly shows how to cut a very useful, yet simple wood joint: the Half Blind Lap Dovetail! Don’t get scared by the big name…in fact, I generated the name because there was no consistent name given for the joint (can I trademark this???).


You can buy this Moravian Workbench DVD that I produced here. I would encourage you to watch the above video, but the steps are really quite simple. You first cut a tail with a backsaw:


Then you use a chisel to pare and clean up the tail:


Then set the tail right on the board where you’ll be cutting & chopping your mortise (a workbench leg, in this case):


Trace the tail, and use a marking gauge to mark the mortise depth so that the tail board will be a hair above the face after it’s driven in. Then use a backsaw and chisel to remove waste down to a depth line.


Set the tail board on the new mortise and refine the fit with a chisel:


Then give some light taps with a mallet to drive the tail board in. Notice how the tail board is sitting a little high? This allows you to handplane the tail board down without hitting the mortise board:


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About the Author:

Joshua loves mixing his passion for traditional hand tool woodworking with his ability to teach in a simple manner. He lives on a small farm in Earlysville, Virginia with his wife and four children, and builds furniture in his workshop / woodworking school.

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I have learned so much watching your lessons . The next boxes I make will be dovetail .


I am a newbie to woodworking. I am so enjoying your blog, it is such an education to learn the traditional ways of joining as opposed to a machine made joint.

Thank you.

I’m in California. For the video it would be the Howarth Bow Saw. T-shirt handplane, black XL.

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